Habib Bank Limited (HBL) has become the first bank in Pakistan to invest in a digital fintech startup with its significant participation in the last tranche of Finja’s Series A1 round.

HBL, Pakistan’s largest commercial bank, joins leading global fintech funds that are invested in Finja, including BeeNext, Vostok Emerging Finance, Quona Capital, and ICU Ventures.

All investors from previous rounds topped up their investment in this round of financing.

HBL’s investment in Finja serves two of the bank’s strategic priorities: investing in digital financial inclusion and development finance companies, especially ones making an impact in agriculture and SMEs as these are the backbone of the economy.

Reinventing HBL to become a ‘technology company with a banking license’. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in April last year, Finja has built its digital lending portfolio by 550% disbursing over 50,000 digital loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Despite being the backbone of the economy, small businesses in Pakistan have traditionally struggled to obtain credit to grow.

A 64% month-on-month portfolio growth during pandemic

Qasif Shahid, Co-Founder and CEO CEO of Finja, said:

“We are pleased to have HBL participate in this funding round. Our know-how in digitally scoring undocumented small businesses has resulted in 64% month-on-month portfolio growth since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“HBL’s financial clout, extensive network and progressive leadership will help us support and nurture Pakistan’s most important business segment, the SMEs.”

Monis Rahman, Co-Founder and Chaiman of Finja, added:

“These loans are critical for Pakistan’s economic growth. Our productive loans result in a 40% increase in SME revenue with less than a 1% default rate,”

Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO – HBL, said:

“We are pleased to be investing in FINJA. Pakistan’s fintech landscape has immense opportunities. At HBL we believe that by making this investment we are not only developing the startup ecosystem, but it will also pave the way for Pakistan to play a bigger role in the fintech space globally.

“SME lending is the future and therefore we are investing in Finja which enjoys a first mover advantage over the market in digitally lending to SMEs in this country.”